Building a civilization upon a firm foundation of fired bricks has a long tradition that’s been traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization.
Ceramic, or fired brick was used as early as 3000 BC in early Indus Valley cities.
The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilisation (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1600 BCE) mainly in the northwestern regions of South Asia, extending from what today is northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India.
Mohenjo-daro is an archeological site in the province of Sindh, Pakistan.
Built around 2500 BCE, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley civilization, and one of the world’s earliest major urban settlements, contemporaneous with the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Minoan Crete, and Norte Chico.
Harappan Linear Measurements and Brick Sizes
On the basis of two rare discoveries of what have been referred to as scales, combined with careful analysis of architectural features, the earlier excavators calculated that there were two systems of linear measurement at use in the Indus cities, the foot (13.2 inches or 33.35 cm) and the cubit (20.8 inches or 52.83 cm)
(Marshall 1931; Mackay 1938; Vats 1940).
The earliest fired bricks produced at Harappa measure around 7 x 14 x 28 cm (1:2:4 ratio).
Measuring the Harappan World – J M Kenoyer – 2010
The Archaeology of Measurement – I Morley and C Renfrew
This tradition was alive and well in Sri Lanka during the first half of the 1st millennium CE.
The Jetavanaramaya is a stupa located in the ruins of Jetavana in the sacred world heritage city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.
Mahasena of Anuradhapura [277- 304 AD] initiated the construction of the stupa following the destruction of the mahavihara.
His son Maghavanna I completed the construction of the stupa
Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sri Lankan civilization.
It was the third capital of the Kingdom of Rajarata, following the kingdoms of Tambapanni and Upatissa Nuwara.
Rajarata was one of three historical regions of the island of Sri Lanka for about 1,700 years from the 6th century BCE to the early 13th century CE.
In India this tradition appears to have ground to abrupt halt [sometime] around 500 CE.
Mansar is a census town in Ramtek tehsil of Nagpur district in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
These excavations have resulted in the discovery of various shrines (MNS 3, 4, 5) and a palace complex (MNS 2), identified as Pravarapura, the capital of the Vakataka king Pravarasena II (1st half of 5th century).
Adjacent to this palace, on Hidimba Tekri (MNS 3), an extensive temple complex has been unearthed, identified as Pravareśvara.
A 3 m tall lime model of a male human figure in crouching position was found underneath one of the terraces of MNS 3.
Significant 5th-century sculptures of Hindu deities, artefacts and some coins have been discovered in the excavations.
The water reservoir around the site and findings of ancient tools and other objects point to the fact that a large population inhabited the area 1600 years ago.
The Vakataka Empire was a dynasty from the Indian subcontinent that originated from the Deccan in the mid-3rd century CE [to circa 500 CE].
The demise of the Vakataka Empire in [about] 500 CE was probably catastrophic given the physical bulk of the ballast and boulders that buried Pravarapura.
The curiously coincidental aspect of this tale of civilizations is that when the Romans adopted fired bricks they also adopted the foot [known as the pes Drusianus – the foot of Nero Claudius Drusus] of “about 334 mm” which is a rounded version of the foot used by the Indus Valley Civilization that was 333.5 mm long.
Early civilisations around the Mediterranean adopted the use of fired bricks, including the Ancient Greeks and Romans.
The Roman legions operated mobile kilns, and built large brick structures throughout the Roman Empire, stamping the bricks with the seal of the legion.
The Romans only developed fired clay bricks under the Empire, but had previously used “mud brick”, dried only by the sun and therefore much weaker and only suitable for smaller buildings.
Development began under Augustus, using techniques developed by the Greeks, who had been using fired bricks much longer, and the earliest dated building in Rome to make use of fired brick is the Theatre of Marcellus, completed in 13 BC.
The Theatre of Marcellus (Latin: Theatrum Marcelli, Italian: Teatro di Marcello) is an ancient open-air theatre in Rome, Italy, built in the closing years of the Roman Republic.
However, it is also the earliest dateable building in Rome to make use of fired Roman brick, then a new introduction from the Greek world.
Archeologists believe that the Egyptians, Ancient Indians and Mesopotamians preferred the cubit while the Romans and the Greeks preferred the foot.
The standard Roman foot (pes) was normally about 295.7 mm (97% of today’s measurement), but in the provinces, the pes Drusianus (foot of Nero Claudius Drusus) was used, with a length of about 334 mm.
The Belgic or North German foot of 335 mm (13.2 inches) was introduced to England either by the Belgic Celts during their invasions prior to the Romans or by the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th & 6th century.
In terms of the revised chronology this coincidence provides another indication that [some] survivors migrated to the Mediterranean when Mother Nature vented her spleen at India.
The reconciliation of the Roman Greece Splice suggests the crushing of the entire Greek peninsula in 88 BC is associated with the perihelion of Comet Halley in 607 CE and that the Year of the Four Emperors in 69 AD was triggered by the sand layer associated with the perihelion of Comet Halley in 760 CE.
The Roman Termination Events slot neatly into position centered upon the Year of the Six Emperors in 238 AD which aligns with the perihelion of Comet Halley in 912 CE.
Therefore, it appears that fired bricks and the foot can be added to the growing list of artefacts that travelled westward Out of India.
The curious history of fired bricks during the 1st millennium stretches far and wide.
In China the earliest known brick pagoda sprang up in 523 AD just after the Vakataka Empire appears to have been buried in India around 500 AD.
The Songyue Pagoda, constructed in AD 523, is located at the Songyue Monastery on Mount Song, in Henan province, China.
Built during the Northern Wei Dynasty, this pagoda is one of the few intact sixth-century pagodas in China and is also the earliest known Chinese brick pagoda.
Most structures from that period were made of wood and have not survived, although ruins of rammed earth fortifications still exist.
The Songyue Pagoda is the oldest brick pagoda dating to 523 AD.
It was built with yellow fired bricks laid in clay mortar, with twelve sides and fifteen levels of roofs.
And in North America it was reported that “cisterns of Roman brick” were found 70 feet underground in the vicinity of Memphis, Tennessee.
While this work is going through the press, an article has appeared in “Harper’s Monthly Magazine,” (September, 1882, p. 609,) entitled “The Mississippi River Problem,” written by David A. Curtis, in which the author says
“When La Salle found out how goodly a land it was, his report was the warrant of eviction that drove out the red man to make place for the white, as the mound-builders had made place for the Indian in what we call the days of old.
Yet it must have been only yesterday that the mound-builders wrought in the valley, for in the few centuries that have elapsed since then the surface of the ground has risen only a few feet not enough to bury their works out of sight.
How long ago, then, must it have been that the race lived there whose pavements and cisterns of Roman brick now lie seventy feet underground?’”
Mr. Curtis does not mean that the bricks found this prehistoric settlement had any in historical connection with Rome, but simply that they resemble Roman bricks.
These remains, I learn, were discovered in the vicinity of Memphis, Tennessee.
The details have not yet, so far as I am aware, been published.
Ragnarok: The Age Of Fire And Gravel – Ignatius Donnelly – 1883
I wonder if those “details” ever officially saw the light of day…